Thursday, March 08, 2012

Ocotillo Flowers

Ocotillo Flowers

At Joshua Tree National Park, where I camped for two nights, there had been a relatively wet fall, so many of the cacti were blooming this mild winter. The ocotillo grove, which is one my favorite spots in the Park, had several stands that were flowering. Long conical red flowers at the ends of the long cactus stalks, some of the stands covered in small green leaves. Ocotillo are dramatic, standing up to 20 feet high, stalks growing from a central taproot point. They bend to the prevailing wind over time, giving them a windswept look even when the day is calm.

I made this drawing on my iPad, with the ArtRage app, using one of the photos I made that afternoon as a reference image. Still, I like the more impressionistic result. I didn't try to be too realistic about the background, or the area around the ocotillo, suggesting more than depicting the surrounding dirt and stands of sage. Still, anyone who's been to the Southwest will recognize the colors, the sky, the desert scene, and the ocotillo.

I did this drawing in several layers, exploring the app's Layers feature for the first time. The cactus and its sun-shadow are foregrounded, while other layers were built up for the sky, the distant line of mountains, and the foreground dirt with its loose jumble of rocks. I used several different tools this time, two different kinds of brushes, pastels, a little airbrush, and the paint roller. I like broad strokes for this kind of drawing, and I think the paint roller made an interesting sky gradient, built up in several thicknesses on different layers. more subtle to create than the end result appears. This kind of drawing/painting painting is about underpainting, building up color in layers, so that subtle effects show through. It took me awhile, but I like the finished result.

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Blogger Elisabeth said...

It's amazing to me what you ca create on an ipad and the results that are so painterly.

2:47 PM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

Thanks, E. I think this is my best iPad painting yet. I printed it out this afternoon, and it held up as looking good.

I sort of feel like these tools are, for me, like help for the handicapped. They allow me to do things with drawing and painting I never really did with physical media. But an artist friend pointed out to me, this afternoon after looking at this piece, that I could probably take what I've learned here, and take it back to pastels and colored pencils, and do it there, too. I do feel like doing it digital does help me self-confidence for transferring the skill back to paper and drawing materials.

9:59 PM  

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